ELA Newsletter

Spring 2022

Thank you for taking the time to read this term’s ELA Newsletter. Over the past few weeks we have been holding our ELA Experience Days (Girton Glebe’s will be after Easter) and gathering feedback from parents, students and staff about trust communication; opportunities and well-being. 
We are gathering together the feedback we have received and, once we have held the Girton Experience Day we will collate and publish a series of actions linked to the areas discussed.
You may find the next newsletter may look a little different – post the final experience day and Girton’s feedback – with some themed sections about trust collaboration and a greater use of video clips.
I hope you enjoy this term’s letter.
Lucy Scott
CEO of the Eastern Learning Alliance 

Witchford Village College

SEND Pentathlon

A team of 6 students were invited to take part in a Pentathlon at The Hive Leisure Centre in Ely in March. The students took part in several different activities, all designed to build confidence and promote teamwork. The students thoroughly enjoyed this experience, had great fun and worked amazingly as a team. The students returned to school with a well-deserved 2nd place, a trophy, certificates and beaming smiles. Coming in 2nd place resulted in another invitation to St Ives Sport centre to the next pentathlon. This time they achieved a proud 3rd place out of 7 schools. Well done to all involved.

Plant a tree for the Jubilee

In February we were delighted to plant our new fruit trees, all part of East Cambridgeshire district council’s climate action plan and adding to ‘The Queen’s Green Canopy Project’ in celebration of the Platinum Jubilee 2022.

Art Exhibition 1st place!

We are so proud of our Art GCSE student Josie who won first prize at the East Cambridgeshire Schools Art Exhibition award which is currently exhibited in the Babylon Gallery.

My Life, My Future

Over the past two months our devoted PSHE Leads in each of our ELA secondary schools have been released from their hectic day to days to work together to further develop a holistic and inclusive curriculum framework to ensure thorough coverage of some of the most essential knowledge and life skills for our young people.

Sarah Welch at Witchford Village College shared the following: “As a team of PSHE Leads, we are passionate about providing the highest quality education to our students; equipping them with the knowledge, skills and confidence to face the challenges of growing up in our ever-changing world. Our five-strong team is thrilled that ELA recognise the importance in our subject and its role in reducing student absence, raising aspirations, improving attainment and reducing behavioural issues.

This month in our meeting we are focussing on student voice. We will be analysing the data from recent student surveys and inviting in a panel of students to share their views and opinions on the current provision. Our student-centered approach and the need for constant review & adaptation results in an ever-changing curriculum which engages and empowers our young people.

We are working on a number of different projects and are excited to reveal our collaborative plans for the next academic year in due course.

Careers Education

On the 3rd February 2022 we welcomed in representatives from the local business community who offered all of our Year 11 students a one to one mock interview.  This experience for students is so invaluable and has been sadly missing in person during the pandemic.  Each student had an interview slot and had to complete a “Dream Job” application form, which the interviewer then talked to them about.  The students then received verbal feedback and will also have the opportunity for written feedback.  This has given these students a taste of what an interview would feel like.

Students commentedIt was really helpful and made me think about how to prepare myself”.   “I was anxious to take part, but it was really great to talk to different people”. 

We can not thank the businesses and individuals enough who gave up their time and shared their expertise.  Witchford Village College is always looking for ways to ensure that our students have experiences that will improve outcomes for them in the future and this was such an event.

The companies involved were: Grovemere, Growth Works, G’s Fresh, Chair of Cambs Chamber of Commerce, Governors an Ex-Governors from WVC, Emerald Frog, Millrose Telecom, Red Shoes Accounting, AIM Apprenticeships and NEACO (Anglia Ruskin University). 

Girton Glebe Primary School

Ukraine Appeal

Thank you so much to everyone who has donated items to our Ukraine Appeal. We have been incredibly surprised and amazed by the generosity of people over this week who have donated pillows, blankets, toiletries, food, clothes and more. The word of mouth has spread across the village and the ELA Trust: we were inundated with items, which have now been packed into numerous vans and will be making their way across Europe to support those in need. We are sure this will be a great comfort to them in this time of need.

Thank you.

Year 6 Residential to Wales

Year 6 had a fantastic week at Abernant Lake in Wales last week! Miss Jolly, Mrs Storer and Mr Smart set off with twenty excited children bright and early on Monday morning and, after a rather winding journey through the Welsh countryside, spent the week at the wonderful Manor Adventure hotel in Llanwrtyd Wells. The week was packed full of outdoor pursuits, games, team-building activities and lots of beautiful sunshine. From obstacle courses and blind trails on our first day to wide games and abseiling before we returned home on Friday, the children of Oak Class threw themselves into every challenge, demonstrating courage, resilience and co-operation in every activity. Highlights of the week included designing and building their own rafts before setting sail (albeit not very successfully!), and canoeing, kayaking and paddle-boarding in the sunshine. Children and staff also loved hiking in the Welsh hills, cycling along “rollercoaster roads” and through the smallest town in Britain, and even zip-wiring in the dark. Of course, the week wouldn’t have been complete without a disco on our last evening – turns out Oak Class (and Mrs Storer) have got the moves! 

We really did have a brilliant time and staff were blown away by the maturity, manners and all-round excellent behaviour from all of the Year 6 children. Well done Oak Class; you were a joy to take away! Our next residential will be to Norfolk Lakes after Easter, where we will hopefully have just as much fun and sunshine! 

World Book Day

For World Book Day, we celebrated everything to do with books for the week. The children took part in ‘Drop and Read’ daily sessions, Powerful Word Fancy Dress, Book In A Jar competition and our school-wide Book Swap! At the ring of a bell, the whole school stopped whatever learning they were doing to pick up one of their favourite books and engage in reading for 15minutes. The children (and adults) took pleasure in curling up in their reading corners, finding a spot under a tree of relaxing in the Millenium Garden to read. On Thursday, the school was awash with colour and magnificent outfits as children and staff dressed up as a powerful word: flamboyant, impenetrable, cluttered, sparkly and optimistic were some of the words which were seen throughout the school. Our ‘Book In A Jar’ competition received many imaginative and creative entries, which were very difficult to judge! As well as all of these fun activities, teachers will also be promoting the joy of reading for pleasure both in the classroom and school library throughout the week, as well as planning exciting World Book Day activities to complement our learning throughout the school day on Thursday. 

Break the rules day!

On the last day of term, our classrooms were filled with giant teddies, children wearing hats and colourful nail varnish as we took part in ‘Break the Rules’ fundraising day. Enjoyment was had by staff and children, who were allowed sweets as snacks, to wear an item of non-uniform and to call their teacher by their first name! In total, we raised a fantastic £336.59 for the school. We would like to thank FOGG for organising a brilliant event and to everyone who participated in raising money for FOGG.

Impington Interntional College

Oxbridge offers

This term, the largest ever number of students from Impington International College have secured conditional offers from the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford. In total, 10 percent of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) students received offers to read History, Linguistics, Mathematics and Computer Science and English and Classics from this September.

The competitive application process for both the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge is well-recognised; this year saw greater competition for places at the universities, with an average of seven applicants per place. The rest of the cohort were as equally competitive, with Russell Group universities proving to be the most popular choices. Students applied to universities such as Durham, Kings College London and Edinburgh, to study a diverse range of subjects. As a college which offers Sports and Performing Arts scholarships, we are pleased to see our students applied to institutes such as Loughborough University and Rose Bruford drama school.

Showcasing top talent

This February, talented Performing Arts scholarship students joined their peers onstage in a performance of Annie the musical, the first full College live performance since the pandemic.

On the final evening, the students had the opportunity to perform in front of West End talent agents for shows Life of Pi and Aladdin as part of the College Performance School’s commitment to forge career links and opportunities for the current cohort.

Sixth Form success

This year, the College has received over 250 applications to study at Impington International College, including over 150 from within the Eastern Learning Alliance Trust schools. More than 100 guidance meetings have already been completed, and the team has been impress by the number of strong applicants and are already processing offers so that successful students will receive their formal offers before the Easter holidays. As a result, they are expecting a healthy cohort of around 130 International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) and Career-related Programme (CP) students to join in September.  

Impington Village College

Award winning mental health provision

This term, Impington Village College earned the Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools ‘School Mental Health Award’ – Gold​ Status for a second time. This is in recognition of its ongoing efforts to provide an environment where students and staff feel supported, safe and secure. The College’s Principal is particularly proud of the pastoral care that it offers to its students and the  wellbeing practices it offers its staff; being one of just eight Flexible Working Ambassador Schools in the UK and one of the leaders of the Department of Education’s Workload Review, all contribute to this recognition.

STEM competition finalists

On 5 February, a number of Impington Village College’s female students were finalists in the CyberFirst Girls Competition. The competition, which aims to inspire more girls to pursue careers in cyber security, saw more than 7,000 students, aged 12 to 13, tackle challenges on networking and AI to cryptography and logic.

International community

Fostering a sense of global community is fundamental to Impington Village College, so, it was a pleasure to see the first multicultural forum of the year so well attended. More than 50 students from all year groups took part in the culture session on 6 January, which focused on the history and significance of Japanese New Year. With the College’s close links to Japan, through its partner school in Morioka, students feel a connection to the culture and are always enthusiastic to learn more about their peers in Asia. The College was gifted a beautiful cherry blossom tree by the Japanese government, a symbol of lasting partnership and students from all Year groups enjoyed attending the planting ceremony.

The Cavendish School

Red Nose Day!

We had a wonderful Red Nose Day at TCS with everyone really getting in the spirit. Classes enjoyed assembly talking about the importance of the day and the help and support that they are able to give worldwide.
Grandin class in particular went all out for Red Nose Day. The staff dressed as super-heroes and the pupils all created their very own heroes along with costumes. I am not sure who had more fun!

New Building – We’re In!

50 new pupils joined us in January along with an additional 16 members of staff. The building was unfortunately delayed, but our community rallied to support us and we were able to open with alternative provision. A staggering 95% of our pupils chose to join us. Thank you to Histon and Impington Scouts for the use of their scout hut and Impington Sports Centre and its patrons for the use of the sports centre areas during our initial month.

We are now settling into our new purpose-built home and getting to know each other well. The pupil’s accomplishment in handling the huge changes that a new school (and a temporary one) can bring cannot be underestimated.
We are starting to enjoy all of the specialist spaces, with more specialist equipment being fitted in the coming months, an open event to come and see the building will be coming soon – Watch this space.

Tree Planting

A local community event in Impington will hold a special place in the history of TCS and our first year. A kind donation of a tree planted in our honour was made and a family, our Chair of Governors and Deputy Head attended the event to plant the tree. This tree not only forms part of the community project but will mark the establishment of TCS and mark the passing of our time from opening. Our tree is planted in the field to the front of the Holiday Inn and is a Quercus Coccinea otherwise known as a Scarlett Oak.

Cambridge Junction – Careers in Film making comes to TCS

Our pupils have been working with the Cambridge Junction on their film event.  At the Cambridge Junction they run a fortnightly arts group call Total Arts for young people with a range of disabilities.  Every year they also hold a Total Arts film festival where they premier films made by our pupils and by five other schools.  The pupils have had the first of the two two-hour workshops which provide an introduction to film making.  They have chosen a robbery theme for the film which they will submit and then they will get to see it on the big screen in June.

Cambridge Maths School

Cambridge Maths School is a specialist state funded sixth form college which will bring together the most talented students from across East Anglia where they will thrive on being immersed in a stimulating curriculum centred on A-level Mathematics, Further Mathematics and other related Sciences.

CMS will open for students in September 2023 – so to students currently studying in Year 10 – who will  experience an extra-ordinary curriculum that connects ideas, develops a nimbleness of thought and motivates and excites young people to become passionate about Mathematics.

Parallel to the sixth form experience is an outreach programme that seeks to develop young people who are high attaining mathematicians across the region and we are excited to have started planning our initial events. These will consist of masterclasses to be held in the summer of this year as well as Maths Circles.  A Maths Circle is a group of students who come together to be Mathematicians collectively to grapple with intriguing questions, discover and explore exciting ideas and learn to think like mathematicians. These will be initially rolled out to students in Year 8 in the Autumn term, followed by Year 7 in January 2023.

Plans have been drawn up to create specialist facilities in our brand new location. Students will benefit from an environment that boasts a variety of facilities including specialist laboratories, social spaces, open plan learning zones, quiet study zones and breakout spaces. As the works progress we’ll keep you updated.

The school is on Mill Road, Cambridge – just a short walk from the railway and bus stations, or of course an easy cycle ride from multiple locations.

Clare Hargraves

Staffing Update

We are thrilled to be able to appoint Clare Hargraves as Head of School for the Cambridge Maths School from September 2022.

Clare’s knowledge of the Cambridge Maths School project as the architect of the Free School Application in 2017 will be invaluable moving forward. Clare has completed her National Professional Headteacher Qualification and has significant experience as a highly successful Maths leader at Chesterton where outcomes were consistently among the highest in the country. Clare also spent two years Leading Athena College in Downham Market raising standards and recruitment numbers over a two year period.

We are also pleased to be able to appoint Jack Rudin as Director of Strategy and Engagement for the Cambridge Maths School from September 2022. Jack has significant leadership experience in the international school sector, and most recently has been Head of Secondary at Nord Anglia School in Hanoi, Vietnam. Jack demonstrated excellent leadership and communication skills on interview and demonstrated common values and clarity of vision that aligned clearly with the ELA vision for the Cambridge Maths School. We believe that Jack’s skill set, and experience will support Clare’s specific knowledge of the project to establish a high performing senior team.

Downham Market Academy


Matt from the Papillon Project returned this term to restart the process of converting a disused bit of scrubland at the back of the school into a fully functional and sustainable allotment.  With a lot of the hard graft completed before Christmas, this term is about preparing the soil and planting ready for harvest later in the year.  As well as outside beds made from old gym equipment, we have used tractor tyres as raised planters for herbs and a polytunnel will provide shelter for growing seedlings over the colder months before spring kicks in.

Period positivity

All classrooms have baskets filled with free sanitary products for those who need them. They are discreetly, yet easily accessible to our students and part of our Period Positivity drive to ensure all students feel comfortable and positive about a natural part of life.  There are also eco-friendly reusable products available.  All totally free to our students.

Ukraine appeal

We were bowled over by the generosity of our community in donating food, toiletries, clothes, toys, games, bedding, tents and more to aid the Ukrainian humanitarian crisis. This is about half of what was donated to make the long journey over to Poland.

Athena Sixth Form

Athena Sixth Form College on the move!

Our Sixth Form students moved from the separate campus to our main site in Downham Market just before February half term. Everyone has embraced the change and opportunities that it offers to be a part of a larger and more vibrant community.

We look forward to welcoming our new Director of Sixth Form – more news after the holiday!

Chesterton Community College

Chesterton Lectures

The Chesterton Lecture series sees a host of visiting speakers from academia, health, business, media, science and more attend Chesterton on a weekly basis to deliver lectures to students and staff on a range of fascinating topics. Some of this term’s lectures included:

  • A day in the life of a paramedic
  • Photoshop in Henry VIII’s Court: What You Find When Putting a 500-Year-Old Book Under the Microscope (and then swab it for DNA).
  • Spacetimes of Covid-19: Rethinking memory in process?
  • An introduction to British Forestry & Timber
  • ‘It’s Good to Talk.’ The results of a ground-breaking clinical trial, exploring the effects of different Talking Therapies in adolescents with Clinical Depression.
  • The first cities and the first writing – archaeology in the Iraq desert
  • Making Money from Science. Good or Bad.

We are always looking for new speakers, if you think you could deliver a lecture linked to your career or an area of interest we would love to hear from you. Please contact Sophie Hawkins, Assistant Head, at

Event Operations CPR

Students at Chesterton are able to study Event Operations as one of their KS4 options. The Event Operations qualification is designed to allow students to explore all aspects of the Events industry, a sector worth more than £40 billion to the UK economy. Students learn about roles involved in the industry, as well as plan, deliver and evaluate their own events. Recently the Event Operations students participated in a workshop called ‘Hearts Matter’ delivered by Magpas Air Ambulance. The students fully immersed themselves in the practical training course and were very mature in understanding the importance of being able to confidently perform CPR to a baby, young child, adolescent and adult. Prioritising the health and safety of customers and staff at any event is vital and the course gave students more context and understanding in this area.

Year 7 Design Challenge Day

On Friday 4th March, 60 Year 7 pupils worked with architects from the Cambridge Association of Architects (CAA) and Architecture students from the University of Cambridge, students developed fundamental design skills and in turn their creativity. The pupils collaborated throughout the day and created a structure which they believed would transform the Dip, a nature reserve area, on site at Chesterton. See some of the students in action and the work they produced as part of the design challenge day (pictures attached to the email).

The Arts

It has been a busy term for the Arts at Chesterton with highlights including:

  • A musical theatre showcase with students from the Musical Theatre Society performing a variety of songs from musicals such as ‘Wicked’, ‘Mary Poppins’, ‘Matilda’ and many more.
  • GCSE Drama Showcase – Year 11 GCSE Drama students performed monologues, duologues and group pieces to an invited audience and the GCSE Examiner.  The pieces ranged from Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde to Churchill, Hare and Ravenshill.  The pieces showed a maturity and dramatic skill way beyond the years of the performers.
  • Auditions for the Summer production of Les Miserables, a joint production between the Chesterton music and drama departments with support from Corkscrew Theatre Company.  More details regarding performances available in the summer term.
  • 1984 was performed by Chesterton Youth Theatre’s Year 10 students.  The production combined dazzling physical theatre with political charge, nuanced voices, musical eclecticism and illuminating multi-rolling.  The play, which speaks from the past, could not be more pertinent in our present and offered hope in its search for truth and freedom.
  • West Road Music Concert, a highlight of the year for the Chesterton Music Department which saw all of the ensembles and selected soloists perform on the prestigious West Road stage.  A wonderful celebration of music and of a fantastic array of musical talent.
  • 40 students from Year 9 to 13, including present and former Chesterton and Witchford students took part in a workshop and audition day for National Youth Theatre.  As part of the day students took part in a three-hour workshop exploring character, voice and movement, students then participated in a 1 to 1 audition performing a prepared speech from a published play.
  • Congratulations to Laurie in Year 7 and Holly in Year 8 who have gained much coveted places with National Youth Mustic Theatre this summer.  An exceptional achievement given the huge numbers of young people who auditioned across the country and the intensity of the auditions and recalls.  Laure will perform in Ragtime in August and Holly will perform in the NYMT Showcase in July.  We look forward to seeing Laurie and Holly on stage this summer.

Chesterton Sixth Form

New Reception

Plans for the launch of Chesterton Sixth Form continue apace, with the opening of our beautiful new reception area being the highlight of this term! The separate entrance to the site will ensure students can come and go during the college day. 
It was fantastic to meet over 100 applicants at our launch event. Prospective students had a chance to discuss their reasons for applying to us, and met with the enrichment team to start considering their personalised programmes. 
Next steps include the sending of our official offer letters and planning events for the summer term. We can’t wait to meet all our offer holders in July!

Central Trust Update


This term the central maintenance team have supported local schools with general building care tasks along with working on a range of projects including: 

  • Development of spaces at Girton Glebe.  The team have created break out spaces and addition intervention rooms to support teaching and learning. 
  • The Science Laboratory refurbishment continues with another in progress at Impington.  The roof of this building has been replaced. 
  • Spaces at Downham Market have been reimagined creating a Sixth form workroom 
  • Replacement and refurbishment of Fire doors at Downham Market  
  • The Frontage of Witchford Village College has been had the repaving completed giving a much cleaner and smarter entrance  
  • A significant number of Smart Boards have been installed across the Trust  


Another busy term in IT – just a few highlights:

  • 1:1 device trials have begun at IVC based on the Google Chromebook device alongside the 1:1 loan of Chromebooks to IIC students and Athena students with preparations for Chesterton Sixth Form to use the same device. We are now making preparations for extending the trial in the new academic year.
  • DMA and CCC student password self-reset and management launched, with automated reminder emails being sent to students. All students are encouraged to enrol themselves for self-reset to ensure access to Teams and EduLink.
  • First round of network upgrades started with DMA which will deliver ten times the network bandwidth to key areas of the Academy with the second round planned for Easter; we are forging forward with phase one of the infrastructure upgrade projects.

Opportunities with Eastern Learning Alliance

There are a number of vacancies across our family of schools. Find out more about our current vacancies by visiting our website – tela.org.uk/vacancies/

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